Peter walked along the corridor; he kept an eye on what was going on. Following at a distance, he saw the man he called teacher. He had spent the last three years learning from Him and living each day together along with eleven others.
“You were with him?” A young servant girl asked.
Peter shook his head. “I am not.” He stated and quickly walked away.
Someone else in the crowd around him pointed at him. “He’s one of them.”
“I am not!” Peter yelled.
“Surely you are.” Said someone else.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t know Him!” Peter yelled as the rooster crowed three times. Peter looked at the man he called teacher and friend and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75)
Betrayal, Peter, one who was in the “inner circle,” spent each day learning and growing with Jesus. The man stated that he would die for Jesus and said that he wouldn’t turn away even if everyone else did. In Jesus’ darkest hour, Peter denied Christ.
Let us fast forward many days, even weeks, after Jesus died and rose again.
Peter and a few of the other disciples were fishing early one morning. Jesus ( who they didn’t recognize at that moment) appears on the shore and asked if they had caught anything. The men in the boat stated they hadn’t. Jesus then says, throw your nets on the other side of the boat. The men in the boat did what they were told. Suddenly, they couldn’t pull their nets up, and the boat was sinking because of so many fish.
“Jesus!” Peter shouted as he jumped out of the boat and ran to Him.
Jesus looked at Peter and asked, “Peter do you love me?”
“Lord, you know I do,” Peter replied.
“Feed my lambs.”
“Peter,” Jesus said again, “Do you love me?”
“Lord, why do you ask this? You know I do.” Peter responded.
“Tend my flock.”
Then Jesus looked at Peter and asked him again. “Peter, do you love me?”
Peter looked hurt as he spoke, “Lord, you know I love you. Why do you keep asking me this?”
“Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.
Coincidence? No. Jesus was telling Peter, you are forgiven. Jesus was saying; I forgive you for all three of your betrayals. Jesus forgave a man who basically stabbed him in the back and hurt him. Yet Jesus forgave him.
Forgiveness, I don’t know about you, but that’s not always an easy thing to do.
Just the other day, I had to deal with an issue of forgiveness. I had hurt someone and didn’t even realize how severely. (The funny thing is I was trying to do what was best for this person and others involved). This person stated that they had forgiven me, but their actions toward me said they were still holding it against me.
You’ve never done that, right? I wish I could say that I have never held a grudge, that I never got mad and refused to forgive someone; the truth is most likely we all have done this.
Jesus tells us that we are to forgive one another, just as He has forgiven us. This is so important that He put it in the Lord’s Prayer. We are asking God to forgive us like we forgive others. (Matthew 6:9-13) Wow! Does that mean if we forgive bitterly and half heartily, that’s how He will forgive us? I am not sure about that, but He does say that unforgiveness is a sin and that if we can’t forgive others, then He doesn't forgive us. (Matthew 6:14-15; John 20:23)
When Jesus died on the cross, He forgave us for all our sins, each and everything we have ever done wrong. (Matthew 26:27-29) And as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to do the same to ALL who have hurt us, no matter how many times that may be. (Matthew 18:21-22)
When we can’t forgive someone, it can cause us to have anger and resentment that may pour out onto others. Maybe it has taken the form of a physical condition, and no matter what you do, it gets worse and not better. (Matthew 18:23-35)
To forgive someone, you don’t necessarily need to go to them and say I forgive you. (That in itself could cause another issue.)
This is between you and God and your heart. It can be as simple as this prayer:
Lord I forgive_____________ for _______________. Help me to love him/her and let go of the hurt and bitterness. Let me forgive this person like you have forgiven me. Amen
I can say by experience that there are times when I am reminded of afflictions. They nag in my ear, telling me how much hurt this person has caused me and how I can’t let that go. This isn’t from God, and I know this, so I simply say: “Get behind me. I have dealt with this. I have forgiven this person and am no longer in chains over this. I have been set free in Jesus' name!”
It is essential to understand that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to forgive just like Jesus has forgiven us. If we can’t, then we need to reexamine our relationship with Christ.
Let me end with this saying that has been said to me: “Unforgiveness is like drinking a bottle of poison and waiting for the one who hurt you to die.”